Government of Canada announces up to 50 per cent loan forgiveness to support economic recovery of Indigenous businesses

 Small- and medium-sized Indigenous businesses across the country have experienced tremendous volatility during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to feel the effects as our economy rebounds. Many were able to take advantage of loans available through the Indigenous Business Initiative and remain operational.

In response to these challenging events and as part of Budget 2022 measures, Indigenous Services Canada, the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) and Métis Capital Corporations are supporting Indigenous small- and medium-sized enterprises by forgiving up to 50 per cent of the COVID Indigenous Business Initiative loans, which provided much-needed assistance during the pandemic.

Loan forgiveness measures mean that businesses like Nemesis Coffee in Vancouver can recover faster in the long term, support their local economy, and maintain high-quality jobs. At the onset of the pandemic, Nemesis Coffee had to close its café and bakery to convert to a takeout model and halt construction on other projects. They were able to receive support through the Indigenous Business Initiative, which allowed them to keep the lights on and remain resilient throughout.

These measures will benefit approximately 3,800 small- and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs across the country, representing $82.5 million in loan forgiveness. Loans are administered through both NACCA’s network of financial institutions and through five Métis Capital Corporations.

Implementation of the Indigenous Business Initiative loan forgiveness began in mid-summer. Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs are encouraged to contact their respective financial institutions and Métis Capital Corporations regarding their loans.


“At the onset of the pandemic, Nemesis Coffee in Vancouver closed their café and bakery for in-person service and converted to a takeout model. The business also had to halt construction on other projects. However, with support through the COVID Indigenous Business Initiative, they are still going strong. The company has survived and thrived, and continues to contribute to the local economy by creating good jobs, many of them for young people. Indigenous-owned businesses across the country, like many others, have struggled to continue operating during this unprecedented time of disruption related to COVID-19 measures. As our economy and communities recover, the federal government, with the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) and Métis Capital Corporations, have announced up to 50 per cent loan forgiveness for small- and medium-sized Indigenous businesses that used the COVID Indigenous Business Initiative. This measure will help more than 3,800 companies and entrepreneurs across the country to keep going, keep recovering, and keep being an essential ingredient in the local and national economy.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu 
Minister of Indigenous Services

“Indigenous businesses are heavily concentrated in sectors that were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 mitigation measures. The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) and our Indigenous Financial Institution network lobbied governments for an emergency loan program tailored to the unique situations of our Indigenous business clients. By June 2021, NACCA and 37 financial institutions had delivered the capital and care they needed to survive, providing just under $160 million to over 3,000 Indigenous businesses. It is a testimony to our network’s strength that we were able to design and deliver the program in such a short time. NACCA continues to offer businesses support during their recovery from coast to coast to coast.” 

Shannin Metatawabin 
CEO of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association

“The COVID Indigenous Business Initiative was a complete game changer for MFCBC and Métis entrepreneurs in British Columbia. By being able to offer this program, the Métis Financial Corporation of BC was not only able to expand its client base many times over, but we were also able to give a real helping hand to hundreds of entrepreneurs and their businesses during the worst of the pandemic. None of this would have been possible without the incredible support and dedication from Indigenous Services Canada and the federal government as a whole.”

Evan Salter, CMA, CPA 
CEO Métis Financial Corporation of BC (MFCBC)

Quick facts

  • $306.8 million in interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions for First Nations, Inuit and Métis businesses were provided through the Indigenous Business Initiative.
  • This initiative was one of several COVID-19 measures designed to support Indigenous businesses. Other supports included the Indigenous Community Business Fund, funding for Indigenous tourism businesses, and the Own-Source Revenue in Indigenous Communities Initiative. These were in addition to the suite of relief measures available to Canadian workers and businesses through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

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SOURCE Indigenous Services Canada

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